The Marfa lights or the Marfa ghost lights are unexplained lights (known as “ghost lights”) usually seen near U.S. Route 67 on Mitchell Flat east of Marfa, Texas, in the United States.
The first published account of the lights was written in 1957, and this article is the sole source for anecdotal claims that the lights date back to the 1800s. Reports often describe brightly glowing basketball sized spheres floating above the ground, or sometimes high in the air. Colors are usually described as white, yellow, orange or red, but green and blue are sometimes reported. The balls are said to hover at about shoulder height, or to move laterally at low speeds, or sometimes to shoot around rapidly in any direction. They often appear in pairs or groups, according to reports, to divide into pairs or merge together, to disappear and reappear, and sometimes to move in seemingly regular patterns. Their sizes are typically said to resemble soccer balls or basketballs.
Sightings are reported occasionally and unpredictably, perhaps ten to twenty times a year. There are no reliable reports of daytime sightings; the lights seem to be a nocturnal phenomenon only.
According to the people who claim to have seen the lights, they may appear at any time of night, typically south of U.S. Route 90 and east of U.S. Route 67, five to fifteen miles southeast of Marfa, at unpredictable directions and apparent distances. They can persist from a fraction of a second to several hours. There is evidently no connection between appearances of the Marfa lights and anything else besides nighttime hours. They appear in all seasons of the year and in any weather, seemingly uninfluenced by such factors. They sometimes have been observed during late dusk and early dawn, when the landscape is dimly illuminated.
It is extremely difficult to approach an ongoing display of the Marfa lights, mainly due to the dangerous terrain of Mitchell Flat. Also, all of the land where the Marfa Lights are observed is private property, and access is prohibited without explicit permission from the owners. There are only a very few accounts of success in moving very close to observed lights, but those that exist generally describe objects resembling fireworks lacking both smoke and sound.
The state notes the lights in travel maps, the city has erected a viewing platform, and the Marfa Chamber of Commerce promotes the peculiar lights. The weekend-long Marfa Lights Festival is held annually in the city’s downtown.